caffe nero Yes, I’m aware of the ironing of posting a complaint about laziness two days late – away with such carping – this post is one of stern rebuke to the chain that has made least effort in their Christmas sandwich range. I am talking about CAFFE NERO.

I have spent a lot of time in Caffe Nero this year. Too much time. It is the only chain coffee place in my South-of-Croydon backwater, and it’s also the coffee shop at the base of my work building. In fact I’m writing this very entry in Caffe Nero, and abusing its hospitality mightily by doing so. I go there to write stuff for work when the office environment is too distracting, and that puts me in a good position to expose the half-arsedness of the Nero Christmas experience.

For instance, Nero offers a festive-branded Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese sandwich. Fair enough. But Nero offers the exact same sandwich all the rest of the year round. Now, this dodge is not unique to Caffe Nero. Waitrose does the same thing, and I’m sure they’re not the only one. But Waitrose has a vast range of other festive options and can be forgiven a tiny bit of cheekiness. What does Caffe Nero have?

It has a Brie, Bacon and Cranberry panini. That’s festive alright! Except – yet again – Nero ALWAYS has a Brie, Bacon and Cranberry panini. It’s one of their more reliable lunch options. There does seem to be more cranberry in the Christmas version but this is no more than a minor tweak! (And not universally welcome – see entries passim). Does a PATTERN emerge?

Over to our vegan correspondents, Ewan and Bec. They tried the Falafel with Chestnut wrap. This genuinely is a change from the standard Nero menu BUT! as Ewan points out this is not necessarily evidence of imagination and creativity. “Deeply unimaginative wobs varietal of the usual ‘chuck some falafel in it’ approach to the token vegan offering, but I suppose at least they’re offering something. Needless to say, it is dull and doesn’t taste great.” Bec was slightly more impressed, but only slightly: “I rather liked the sweet potato falafel, but overall this was too sweet. The texture/crunch was nice but I’d give it a miss.”

So Nero’s Christmas fare is either a straight rebranding of the stuff it sells all year round or the most bog-standard vegan sandwich imaginable. In fairness there are two options we haven’t tried: a gluten-free Turkey roll (this looks very miserable) and a “four cheese” Panini which offers a glimmer of originality but also looks very sickly. And their mince pies are nice. But overall Caffe Nero has made the kind of seasonal effort you’d expect from Bob from Accounts on a last-minute secret santa run, not a national chain with hungry and demanding sandwich eaters to feed. Poor show.